The Best and Worst of Zelda: Throwbacks

BrianDecember 17th, 2013 by Brian

it__s_a_secret_to_everybody_by_iwilding-d4kdwhfHello readers! Brian here with the eighteenth edition of “The Best and Worst of Zelda.” It’s amazing to think that I’ve written eighteen of these editorials already, so I’d really love to thank all of you who keep returning to read every week! Today’s topic was my own personal idea, but I think with the recent release of A Link Between Worlds, it’s certainly fitting. Don’t forget to put in your ideas for next week’s Christmas-themed editorial!

With a series such as the Legend of Zelda, which has been around for multiple decades and is associated with a plethora of different games, it’s only natural to repeat certain aspects from older games. Sometimes, this can be interpreted as the repetition of a formula, but when its purpose is obviously to pay homage to classics of the past, it can invoke an invaluable nostalgia in the player. This can come in many forms; it can be anything from a little extra, like a painting or design, or something as big as an entire dungeon! Done right, it’s a powerful way to reach the biggest Zelda fans, but done poorly, it can turn those same people off through boredom of repetition.

The newest Zelda title, A Link Between Worlds, is full of interesting little references to prior games, although of course, many times this is merely to summarize the events of A Link to the Past, the game’s predecessor. But aside from these more necessary, plot-important references, there are plenty of little Easter Eggs around Hyrule and Lorule that should seem rather familiar to fans of the Zelda series. Let’s start with the obvious, enormous mask on Link’s bedroom wall (which later becomes Ravio’s Shop). Talk about an anachronism. Why, the games aren’t even in the same timeline! Seeing Majora’s Mask was present in the game didn’t make me feel much more than puzzled. It didn’t seem to play any role in the game itself, and there isn’t a way to make too much sense out of it. But hey, it’s there, and in my opinion, that’s enough to show us that Nintendo truly hasn’t forgotten about Link’s adventures in Termina. Now I know many of you were expecting, or at least hoping for a hint at a remake of the Nintendo 64 classic title, and in all honesty, I was too, but I think it’s at least nice to know that they haven’t just left that game in the past (like they tend to do with Zelda II). Link’s new ability to become a painting also leads to some fun little extras. In fact, you can see the sage’s instruments from The Wind Waker on the walls of a house in Kakariko Village. Little things like that are really cool to find and just look at for a little while for the sake of nostalgia. Yet none of those little throwbacks match one of my favorite portions of the game: the Milk Bar band. Playing a myriad songs, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear Ballad of the Goddess, a personal favorite of mine. Music is my favorite way of connecting to a game, and that was a really nice addition.

As a quick aside, I’d like to weigh in my opinion on Ravio’s diary found in Hero Mode. Many people are taking this as a clear reference to Majora’s Mask, and I do most certainly see the point. I mean, it is a three-day countdown, which would obviously remind any fan of the iconic three day cycle. I personally feel that there is no way that Nintendo could have added that specific detail without thinking of Majora’s Mask, BUT I also tend to disagree with the claim that the entirety of this diary is a big reference. I find it difficult to believe that the “he” and “she” characters could possibly be anybody other than Yuga and Hilda, and I believe that if you replace the slightly ambiguous pronouns with those two names, the diary makes perfect sense. So here’s the point where I disagree with what Nintendo did here; knowing how analytic Zelda fans can be, and how often they’ve jumped the gun in the past, added to the fact that Aonuma has hinted upon entertaining the remake requests, it was wildly unnecessary to add in the three-day countdown. In fact, the removal of that would leave the diary as a nice little extra for the challengers of strong-will who have decided to take on Hero Mode. And nothing more.

But now I’d like to bring up one of my favorite instances of “throwbacks” in the series: The Royal Crypt. Being the only mini-dungeon in The Minish Cap, it’s often somewhat forgotten due to its brevity, but I would argue that it is one of the better dungeons in the game thematically speaking. The dungeon itself is a reference to the original Legend of Zelda, a game that was already considered to be “vintage” by the time The Minish Cap was released. The music is a creepy, slower remix of the original dungeon theme, which evoked the feeling of ominousness in the player. Along with this, there were the ghastly graveyard ghouls known as Gibdos, who I believe to be the most difficult enemies in the game (but I’m just bad with fighting them). And note that in the Gibdo room, there are four headed statues reminiscent of the entrances to The Legend of Zelda‘s dungeons. It’s a fantastic, yet short little experience that deserves more credit than it receives.


Again, a nod to the classic Legend of Zelda is the frequent repetition of the famous line “It’s a secret to everybody.” The line was first uttered by a friendly and generous Moblin who just gave away his money to you when you stumbled upon his layer. Along with the iconic “It’s dangerous to go alone take this,” this line has gone down in history as a symbol of the Zelda franchise. Why, it’s even made it’s way outside of the series into completely unrelated games such as Valve’s Team Fortress 2. How strange that something so inconsequential became something so widely recognized. In fact, seven other Zelda games have had some character who has said this line, most recently in A Link Between Worlds. Once again, it’s a basically meaningless line, but the joy and nostalgia of seeing it in text is certainly worthy of mention.

Now I’d like to finish off with a little, unusual bit that came to my mind only when I was just finishing this editorial. Noticing that I had mentioned plenty of references to Majora’s Mask but not any within the game itself, I decided I should think of one that may have existed there. Then it hit me; I distinctly remembered really enjoying one of the Zora’s piano compositions as a kid, my first time playing through the game. Coming back to it recently, having played the classic games in the series, I was elated to realize that the piece was actually the “GAME OVER” theme for The Legend of Zelda. It’s really a great feeling to notice something like that, and the fact that I only really picked up on it during my second play through made it quite a bit more satisfying. It’s an excellent tune too, so go ahead and give it a listen!

Well that’s all for this week! Next week’s article is a Christmas special edition, so please put in your ideas for the specific topic. Don’t forget to check back every Tuesday at 11 AM Central Time for more! As always, remember to comment your ideas on the many throwbacks in Zelda, and of course, thanks for reading!

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  • Demise

    Since it’s Christmas… Best and Worst of Zelda: Feasts in Hyrule (or Feasts in Zelda). Stuff like the Carnival of Time, the Picori Festival (is that what’s it’s called?), etc.

    • Essence Of The Triforce

      What he said!

      • Sean Gadus


    • michkori

      No since its Christmas

      On the fourth day of Linkmas, Princess Zelda gave to me, 4 light spirits, 3 pendants of virtue, 2 bottled fairies, and the master sword in the pedestal of time.


      • OcarinaofWind12

        …I’ll stick with Din and Rish’s version.

        • michkori

          Don’t know who they are. And you don’t have to read then if you don’t want to. And I’m only doing it try and bring in the Christmas spirit.

  • OcarinaPlayerOfTime

    Next one should be Best and Worst of Zelda: Upgrades, unless there already is one :P

  • Kieroni

    I loved hearing the GAME OVER theme. It made me so happy. =3 Btw, I’m not sure how many people found out that the Majora’s Mask in LBW is at head level, so if you meld with the wall, you can be “wearing” Majora’s Mask. I think that I love musical nods to previous games the most. When I hear the Hyrule Castle theme, or (I LOVED this,) the streetpass battles that play the AoL Palace theme. I’ll think of my other favorites later…

    • Kieroni

      Hearing the Queen Zora’s theme in TP was amazing too, as well as subtle referencing of past characters. It just makes Zelda all the more wonderful!

    • Seth12

      You can do this with many paintings also. some can be very funny like in the cucco lady’s house with the cucco painting

      • Marvel

        And the bee suit on the wall in the Bee Guy’s house.

        • Kieroni

          Bee suit? Oooo! I’m gonna have to try that. =3

          • Marvel

            And the wanted sign in the miner’s house behind the large boulder.

    • Demise

      Hearing the Game Over theme makes you happy?… :|

      • Essence Of The Triforce

        Just back away slowly…

        • Kieroni

          Hehe. I’m not crazy….. MWHAHAHAHAAA!!

      • Kieroni

        When it’s played by the zora in MM. =P

  • K2L

    I haven’t read the article because it’s full of spoilers. Shame, I wanted to contribute in some way.

  • Dice

    Thanks for saying the Diary is about Yuga and Hilda and not attempting reading more into it than there is.

    • CatHatGuy

      Yuga and Hilda? *SPOILERS FOR ALBW WARNING* I thought it was about Ravio and Hilda. I think Yuga wanted Hilda to lose it, and besides, the house it’s found in is the Lorule version of Link’s house (so we can assume it’s Ravio’s house).

  • Link Aran Galactic Hero

    If you notice, in Majora’s Mask the other players of the Indigo-go band play random pieces from great games: the guitarist plays dungeon theme from original Zelda for NES; the Zora playing drums actually plays cave theme from a link to the past. However my reaction on nothing this was the same as yours, like whoa!!! :)

  • Flovnat

    “they haven’t just left that game in the past (like they tend to do with Zelda II).” Ahem. Streetpass. They haven’t forgotten about Zelda II.

    Also, in Zora hall, all of the band members play songs from older Zelda games. The bass player plays the dungeon theme from Zelda 1, and the drum player plays ALttP cave theme.

    • Zaptoid

      If you mean Dark Link, he was in other games too, so it can’t be anything of importance.

      • Flovnat

        The music. I was talking about the music. It was originally from AoL.

      • CatHatGuy

        Dark Link was from Zelda II, sure, but the song that plays during the fight & rewards is the Palace theme from that game.

        • Zaptoid

          Best Zelda music ever.

  • EponaRocks

    Ideas for Christmas-theme Editorial: Hats; weapons or items that you can receive (be given – Christmas Presents)

  • TheMightyDekuWarrior

    Hearing the original Zelda songs played in Zora hall was some nostalgic stuff.

  • Patrick Starman

    The Best and Worst of Zelda: Ice/Snow Dungeons

    • StationaryBomb

      I’m guessing this includes those goshdarn water dungeons… I almost died in SS through drowning. JEEZ ONE HEART 0.5 SECONDS! That was just stupidity on my part but the N64 OoT and MM Water and Great Bay were confusing as hell.

      • Phil Taylor

        Nah water dungeons are in a whole bracket of their own

  • Makarthekorokwarrior

    Makar is on the wall of the Blacksmith in Lorule!

    • TheMightyDekuWarrior

      Did you ever see the Navi portrait in the “Young Lady’s” house?

      • michkori

        I didn’t know there was a portrait of Navi there, I’ll have to check after i finish my first 3 heart challenge, with no upgrades besides the stamina

      • Makarthekorokwarrior

        Yeah, I saw that. There were lots of cool references on the walls in this game.

        • TheMightyDekuWarrior

          I like your name. ;)

          • Makarthekorokwarrior

            Thanks! I like yours as well.

    • Linkfan99

      Wind Waker HD confirmed! :O

    • Phil Taylor

      Oh wow that’s so cool I’m gonna check that out right now

  • awsomeMrlink

    The Best and Worse of Zelda – Gifts.
    Things that get given to you, since Christmas is the time where you get presents!

  • Evan Raiford

    Also, the Ballad of the Wind Fish was said to be one of the Indigo-Go’s most famous songs.

  • Zaptoid

    Best and worst Santa references? I don’t know of any other than in Oracle of Seasons, but I haven’t played ALttP, MM, WW, FS, FSA, MC, TP, and SS, so if there aren’t any others, then, never mind.

  • hollander

    there is no best and worse T zelda

  • William Cronemyr

    maybe best and worst snow locations?